When boys are young and fall in love with the game of baseball, there are three things they dream of accomplishing. Those dreams are make it to the big leagues, win a World Series, and eventually land themselves a spot in Cooperstown, New York, home of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Baseball just announced its three inductees for the class of Hall of Fame. Those three players are Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas. The trio will be inducted alongside managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, as they were voted in last month by the Expansion-Era Committee. Craig Biggio, who is in his second year on the ballot, missed the induction by two votes. He received 74.8 percent of the vote. The requirement to get in is 75 percent. I will go out on a limb and say that Biggio will be a part of the 2015 Hall of Fame class. He will be up against some stiff competition, more on that later.
The three guys who did get voted in are three guys who deserve the honor. Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas all had tremendous careers. Maddux, receiving 555/571 votes (97.2%), finished his career with a 355-227 record while striking out 3,371 batters. He has an ERA of 3.16, a WHIP of 1.14, and a 1.8 walks per nine innings pitched (second all time). He won four successive Cy Young Awards from 1992-1995. Not only was he a phenomenal pitcher throwing the ball, but fielding the ball as well. He won 18 Gold Glove awards in his 23 seasons of service.
Glavine and Maddux were part of the Atlanta Braves’ dynasty of the 1990’s. The duo, alongside other teammates such as Chipper Jones and John Smoltz, won division title after division title and even won a World Series in 1995. Glavine received 91.9 percent of the vote. He finished his career with a record of 305-203, fourth most for a left handed pitcher. He had a 3.54 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, 2,607 strikeouts and won the Cy Young Award twice.
Frank Thomas was a highly revered slugger in his heyday, he spent most of his career with the Chicago White Sox. He batted .301 and hit 521 home runs while batting in 1,704 runners. The “Big Hurt” had a .419 on-base percentage while slugging .555. He won consecutive American League MVP Awards in 1993 and 1994. Thomas spent the majority of his 19-year career as a designated hitter.
Another big issue involving the Hall of Fame is the guys who will likely never make it to Cooperstown. Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa will likely never get the phone call informing them they have been voted into the Hall. These players have all been linked to PEDs and steroids, a big hot button in sports, especially in baseball.
These are some of the best players the game has ever seen, yet they won’t be remembered for that. All of the aforementioned players that will not get in are forever clouded by PED use, whether they actually used them or not. A key reason none of them will ever be inducted is that fact that their votes keep dropping. This year, all those players received fewer votes than last year. Clemens went from 37.6% to 35.4%; Bonds went from 36.2% to 34.7%. McGwire and Sosa also saw their vote total go down, but they were already pretty low. Palmeiro not only received fewer votes, but is now off the ballot completely as he did no obtain at least five percent of the vote. A great offensive player just saw his chances fly right past them.
Should this be the case, though? Should these players never be allowed in the Hall of Fame? It’s a topic of conversation every single year and it looks like these players will be shunned from the Hall due to either poor judgment or pure speculation. You have arguably the best modern day pitcher and one of the greatest hitters in baseball history not going to make the Hall. Should these two be inducted ever? Absolutely. You can’t ignore the numbers, you just can’t. Neither of those players was suspended or failed an MLB drug test, but were always muddied in scandalous talks of PED use. Some of the writers will never get over baseball’s Steroid Era, no matter what. Some will likely change their minds over the years, but not nearly enough to swing the votes dramatically.
McGwire and Sosa arguably saved baseball in 1998 when the two slugged it out in one of the best home run races of all time. Fans were going to the games more and even watched more from home as the ratings went up. The two were smashing bombs over the fence left and right and that’s what the fans pay to see. Even if all these players were using PEDs, that doesn’t take away from actually seeing and hitting the ball. Hitting a baseball is considered one of the most difficult things to do in all of sports and steroids don’t just make you able to hit the ball. If steroids were able to instantly make you better, then a lot more people would be trying out for professional sports leagues. Obviously, that is not the case.
These players played in an era where a lot of players were using PEDs. There are players who have never taken steroids, but have guilty in the court of public opinion by way of speculation. Which puts you out of Hall of Fame talks, regardless of the facts and numbers. I believe these players should be inducted. The numbers speak for themselves and numbers don’t lie. If there are players who were ever linked to PEDs, they will be almost be guaranteed to not get voted in, which is a shame. What these guys did on the field, whether dirty or clean, were highly impressive and fun to watch. As much as people dislike the Steroid Era, it essentially helped save baseball as it was slowly losing its popularity.
On a final note about who should or shouldn’t be in, Pete Rose – the player with the most hits all time with 4,256 – should be reinstated and voted in, but that is a topic for another conversation on a different day.